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Pollard cracks JWC shortlist

Tue, 17 Jun 2014 06:49
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A finishing school for the future stars of world rugby
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A shortlist of four nominees for the Junior Player of the Year has been named with New Zealand, South Africa, England and Ireland all being represented.
 
Finalists South Africa and England each have a player nominated in captain Handré Pollard and wing Nathan Earle respectively, with Ireland centre Garry Ringrose and New Zealand wing Tevita Li completing the quartet of players.
 
The public now has the chance to vote on this shortlist on the official Facebook page www.facebook.com/irbjuniors.
 
The results of the public poll will be considered, along with the original votes, when finalising the winner. 
 
The nominees:
 
Nathan Earle (England) 
 
The wing announced himself on the Junior World Championship stage with a bang, scoring the first hat-trick of the tournament against Italy on day one, his pace and mazy running simply too much for the Azzurrini to handle. 
 
The 19-year-old followed that up with another brace against Australia in their next match and, while he hasn’t crossed the whitewash since, his breaks have led to other tries to help England retain the hope of defending their title.
 
Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
 
With Irish rugby fans asking the question who will fill the 13 jersey now that Brian O’Driscoll has retired, the answer could lie in 19-year-old Ringrose who has carried well and repeatedly got over the gain-line to help Ireland reach a first JWC semi-final.
 
A lovely straight runner, Ringrose has scored three tries in the tournament, two in the decisive bonus point win over Wales and one in the semi-final loss to England. 
 
He is also an accomplished kicker as he proved with 11 points in the final pool victory over Fiji.
 
Handré Pollard (South Africa)
 
A player who already has a Junior World Championship winners’ medal to his name from South Africa’s success on home soil in 2012, Pollard now holds the responsibility of captaincy in what is his third experience of the tournament.
 
With a maturity beyond his years, the Bulls flyhalf is a calming influence on his teammates but also a natural leader.
 
In the semi-final he became both the leading point scorer at JWC 2014 and also in the competition’s history. 
 
Pollard’s performances in the tournament have led some to suggest him as a possible bolter for South Africa’s squad for RWC 2015.
 
Tevita Li (New Zealand)
 
The New Zealand wing only linked up with the Under 20 squad on the eve of the tournament due to his Super Rugby commitments with the Blues, but that experience has shone through in his performances.
 
A wing blessed with pace and power, Li was one bright spark for New Zealand in their pool loss to South Africa with a hat-trick.
 
The 19-year-old, who has scored five tries in the tournament, will hope to follow in the footsteps of former Under 20 wings Julian Savea and Charles Piutau by graduating to the All Blacks in the years ahead.
 
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The Junior World Championship is a finishing school for the future stars of world rugby and the character-building experiences learned on and off the field in New Zealand will serve the class of 2014 very well.”
 
“Once again we have been treated to a wonderful tournament of great quality, excitement and competition and I am looking forward to seeing the young players who have proudly represented their countries step up and thrill fans watching future Rugby World Cups.”
 
“It is always such a difficult task to select a shortlist from such talent, but the four players nominated for the prestigious IRB Junior Player of the Year thoroughly deserve their place, having been nominated by their peers and their opposition.”
 
“We can now look forward to a mouth-watering climax to the Junior World Championship and the crowning of the champions and our Player of the Year.”
 
Previous Winners:
 
2013 – Sam Davies (Wales)
2012 – Jan Serfontein (South Africa)
2011 – George Ford (England)
2010 – Julian Savea (New Zealand)
2009 – Aaron Cruden (New Zealand)
2008 – Luke Braid (New Zealand)
2007 – Robert Fruean (New Zealand)
2006 – Josh Holmes (Australia)
2006 – Lionel Beauxis (France)
2005 – Isaia Toeava (New Zealand)
2005 – Tatafua Polota-Nau (Australia)
2004 – Jeremy Thrush (New Zealand)
2004 – Jerome Kaino (New Zealand)
2003 – Jean Baptiste Payras (France)
2003 – Ben Atiga (New Zealand)
2002 – Luke McAlister (New Zealand)
2002 – Pat Barnard (South Africa)
2001 – Gavin Henson (Wales)
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